Tom Hardy (Bruce Willis) is a 5th generation Pittsburgh cop investigating a serial killer, when he is demoted to river patrol for suggesting that the serial killer is another cop. Released and set in 1993.
Tropes in this film:
A-Team Firing: A large group of police officers take aim at a car and shoot it up from both sides. None of them hit the suspect nor any parts which would impair the car's movement.
Apathetic Citizens: During the first Chase Scene, not a single car pulls over to the side of the road at the sound of 15 police cars chasing a suspect. The passerby on the sidewalks look over at the cars with mild interest, but no one stops in their tracks or takes cover. Even a guy pushing a baby carriage along the cliff side only glances over at the chase, seemingly with no concern for the child.
Bottomless Magazines: Played straight by the Big Bad as Tom is chased to his boat, but averted to the point of being ridiculous earlier in the film when Tom runs out of ammo while on his police boat so he uses the emergency Flare Gun.
Call Back: As Tom and his father chat, his father asks, "What happened to that nurse you were seeing?" Tom replies that "it didn't work out." This is the same nurse murdered later in the film.
Calling Card: The killer playing "Little Red Riding Hood" over the phone.
Cat Scare: Tom is looking at a map, reviewing the locations where bodies were dumped, when his cat wanders in and walks over the map. He's annoyed. . . until he sees the bloody footprints the cat has left. He follows the trail outside, where he finds the the body of his coworker/friend Kim Lee. Paired with Break-In Threat when you realize that the killer was that close but chose not to harm him.
Catch Phrase: "Let me rephrase that" and "Who's the best cop?"
Clear My Name: Tommy's obsession with both sets of serial murders—and the fact that he had a relationship with all of the victims in the current set—leads him to become a suspect.
Cool House: Tom lives on a houseboat, not far up the Allegheny River from the city.
Dirty Cop: Jimmy. Between his police brutality by day and his work as a Serial Killer by night. Nick too, given that he killed Tommy's father (albeit, by accident) and allowed an innocent man to be arrested for the first set of murders that he knew his son was responsible for and tried to frame ANOTHER innocent man for the second set
Dramatic Gun Cock: Tom, as he infiltrates a boat that's been hijacked. As he accosts one of the men and asks him how many others are there, the man refuses to answer. Tom says "let me rephrase that", then cocks the shotgun he's holding.
Drives Like Crazy: Tom joins up with the chase by going the wrong way down Bigelow Boulevard.
Fair Cop: Jo. Kim Lee, too, even though she's more of a dispatcher rather than a cop.
Frameup: The man arrested and convicted for the first set of murders, based on one person's false claim of seeing him dispose of a body. Then, the second set of murders consists of women whom Tommy had previously had a relationship with. This, coupled with his obsession with the earlier case, eventually makes him the prime suspect. Though Jimmy's primary intention seems to be taunting Tommy by killing the women he loved and the frameup was just an added bonus. His final murder of his friend/coworker Kim Lee seems to be the only one intentionally meant to set him up—the body is dumped right outside his house, along with the murder weapon
Hospital Hottie: Nurse Paula, for the brief moments we see her before she's abducted.
Internal Affairs: Jo turns out to be an undercover IA sent to investigate Tom, but winds up testifying on his behalf instead.
Ironic Echo: Jimmy Detillo says this to Nick Detillo after killing him when it's revealed that Jimmy is wearing a bulletproof vest:
Jimmy Detillo: Who's the best cop now, huh? Who's the best cop now?
And said again by Tom Hardy before shocking him in the mouth with his tazer gun in the river:
Tom Hardy: Who's the best cop now?
Jump Scare: Played twice as Jo returns to her apartment after a crappy day. First, she's startled by the sound of her ringing phone as she starts to open her closet door. As she turns to answer it, the still-unseen killer barges out of her closet to attack her.
Nepotism: Tom and his father are 5th and 4th generation cops. Toms uncle and cousins are all on the force. They all hold some rank, too. One of them is "the best cop", too
Murderer P.O.V.: Several as the killer plays cat-and-mouse with the cops, as he stalks a victim, and an especially creepy one as he watches Tom and Jo make love.
Never Found the Body: Cop Jimmy Detillo commits suicide by jumping off a bridge into a river, just like his mother did. His body is never found. However unlike his mother, he survives and lays low for a few years.
Newscaster Cameo: Ken Rice and Sally Wiggin continue to broadcast in the Pittsburgh area 20 years later.
Noodle Implements: The remote control police car is used every time by the Polish Hill Strangler each time strikes - but the only people who ever know this are the Strangler, the victim and the audience. Why play with a remote control car before leaving your calling card? What's the point?
Officer O'Hara: Tom and his father are Irish, but somehow, his uncle and cousins ended up with an Italian surname.
Easy explanation: Vincent and Nick aren't blood brothers, rather, Nick married Vincent's sister.
Police Are Useless: Tom feels this way because he doesn't know who he can trust with his suspicions. As it turns out, he's absolutely right. To his credit, at least one of the officers apologizes when he realizes his mistake.
Red Herring: Danny, who had just gotten back from California when the killings began again anew. There's also the moment Tom finds a body outside his home. He's devastated, thinking that it's Jo. . .and just as devastated to discover it's his co-worker and friend Kim Lee. It's quite shocking for the audience as well—it's Jo who we saw being attacked just a few minutes earlier, and unlike the other murdered women, Kim Lee was merely a friend, not lover.
Straw Loser: Tom's original partner in river patrol, who exists only to fall off the back of boats. He doesn't do much to deserve it, he's just there for it.
Stunt Double: The man "jumping" Tom's boat off the dam is rather obviously not Bruce Willis.
Television Geography: To locals, the chase scene route at the beginning kind of makes sense, sorta. The tunnels they go through are about a mile and a half from the route they take through downtown, and they drive along notoriously time-consuming routes.
Also the Establishing Shot of the courthouse isn't in Pittsburgh at all, it's the New York State Supreme Court.
Word Salad Title: "Striking Distance" refers to nothing in the movie, unless you count that sometimes the characters are actually within striking distance of each other.
The shooting title was the more appropriate "Three Rivers". It was possibly changed to make it seem more like an action film.